On Oct. 28, FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, citing new discoveries while investigating former congressman Anthony Weiner. Nine days later, on Nov. 6, he officially announced that the new emails had failed to produce any new evidence against Clinton, and that the FBI would not be recommending any charges. His decision to reopen the case was incredibly controversial, considering it came less than two weeks before the election. I would also argue that his decision was incredibly irresponsible.
For many people, Democrats and Republicans alike, Comey’s decision to reopen the case appeared to be a political move, designed to shake voters’ confidence in Clinton. Comey is a Republican, which only exacerbated people’s concerns that further investigating Clinton was not warranted. He had very little information about the new emails, and did not say upon announcing their discovery what they might contain. People were left to speculate what could possibly be important enough to look into so close to Election Day. On top of it all, Comey went against the wishes of the Department of Justice, which told him not to notify Congress that the case had been reopened, since it is against department procedures to comment on ongoing investigations so close to an election. Some politicians, namely Senator Al Franken, are even calling for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Comey’s handling of the investigation, calling it “troubling.” Clearly there was something wrong with the way the FBI conducted their investigation.
This ridiculous email scandal has been dogging Clinton ever since the Democratic primaries, and has often overshadowed the more important aspects of her campaign, like her qualifications for president and stances on the issues at hand. The scandal was overblown and dramatized the first time it faced investigation by the FBI, and the second time was even worse. This intense focus on Clinton’s private email server was unwarranted and a waste of time.
Did we already forget that President-elect Donald Trump has been accused by countless women of sexual assault, rape and generally inappropriate behavior, and that more women are coming forward with new allegations every week? Did we forget that he has managed to avoid paying taxes for years using quasi-legal maneuvers? That he behaves like a child on a daily basis, and that his staff had to take away his access to Twitter so he wouldn’t shoot himself in the foot days before the election? I certainly didn’t, but it seems like the rest of the country has already moved on.
I can’t completely defend Clinton’s actions. Yes, she was being irresponsible by using a private email server for sensitive communications. However, she’s certainly not the first to use questionable email practices as Secretary of State. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell used a personal computer and private phone line when he conducted government business, but there has been little to no attention surrounding his email activities. I have to wonder if the focus on Clinton’s emails is more about her gender than anything else. Considering that the FBI is primarily made up of white men, and that their director is a Republican, I don’t think this accusation is much of a stretch.
I simply cannot understand how people can get so up in arms about the careless handling of emails, but meanwhile brush off a lifetime of inappropriate and sexually aggressive behavior. I’ve heard many voters lamenting that they’ve been forced to “choose between two evils,” but these evils aren’t on the same playing field.
Cassidy Neuner ’18 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Carmel, Calif. She majors in political science and economics.